October 13, 2012

Of Goats & The Best Laid Plans

"The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry."

Robert Burns
To A Mouse

Our own best laid plans had to do with goats. Kinder goats that is. Lovely mid-sized dual purpose goats of Nubian and Pygmy Dwarf genetics, inheriting the best of both. The plan was to take a couple of registered Pygmy bucks, breed them with a couple of registered Nubian does, and go into the Kinder goat business. Unfortunately, the goats didn't cooperate.

I do feel like I gave it (and the goats) a fair chance; almost two full breeding seasons. Losing first one of the Pygmy bucks and then one of the Nubian does were setbacks. Neither doe settling last year (getting pregnant in goat folk talk), was another. But I am very willing to commit myself to a project and not give up when obstacles present themselves. Still, there can come a time when it's necessary to decide whether or not the goal remains viable. Do we persevere no matter the cost? Or do we re-evaluate and modify the goal to meet our needs?

So far this year Surprise has gone through three heat cycles with Gruffy, but without any sign of settling. I don't know why it wasn't happening, but I could not justify letting her go another year without kids. So I decided it was time to change the goal. Now it's official. I've given up on trying to breed Kinder goats. No, no, no, it's not as dire as it sounds. I do not need sympathies, condolences, nor words of encouragement to not give up. Actually, it's a relief.

Onward. The first thing I did was sell all my Nigerian Dwarfs except Ziggy. To be honest, it was very difficult for me to milk Edy and Nessie, their udders were so small. Ziggy, on the other hand, I can manage.

The replacements are, in the buck department...

Our new Kiko buckling, Elvis. Gruffy is in the background.

This (don't laugh, I didn't name him) is Elvis. He's a 10 month old purebred Kiko buckling. The Kiko is a standard size meat breed of goat which recently caught Dan's eye. My thinking is that if the Kinder is a cross between a meat breed (Pygmy) and a diary breed (Nubian), why couldn't I do the same thing with the Kiko? Just an idea.

Elvis in the buck barn, getting a drink
Elvis has quite the "do"

Elvis was named by his breeders because of his "pompadour." He was pretty skinny when we first got him, but he has been gaining a bit of weight since he's been here and I think, looks healthier.

Surprise went into heat again, shortly after we got him. She decided pretty quickly that she liked him (unlike Gruffy, about whom she continually complained.) She was very cooperative, so I'm hopeful.

To replace Edy and Nessie, I bought Lily....

Lily, my new Nubian doeling. 

Something about the markings on her face give her a worried look.

This little girl is a 7 month old purebred Nubian. She's too young to be bred, which works well with my plan for breeding only half my does every year and milking through their off years. I think it's the best way to have milk year around. Next year I'll breed her to Elvis.

Dan and I did discuss going out of state to buy Kinders, though it would mean traveling at least two states away to do so. In the end, that seemed like we were going too far to achieve a goal which was really nominal in the grand scheme of things. I also realized that to develop a quality line of Kinders would require time, work, hard choices, and money. Not that it isn't a noble goal, but I did not want it to overshadow our primary goal of working toward a self-reliant homestead. This way I don't have to worry about conforming to a breed standard, genetic lines, record keeping, registration, tattooing, etc. I can just take good care of my goats and enjoy them.

I'm really happy with my new goats and satisfied with my goat situation in general. I'm excited about possibly creating our very own dual purpose breed; I think I'll call them Kikobians. ;) Here's hoping this goal has better success.


Donna OShaughnessy said...

Us too, always re-evaluating, too often AFTER we realize that indeed money was agin lost. But experience is priceless and lessons learned even more so. Keep up the hard work Leigh, perhaps Elvis indeed will be the king your farm needs.

Tombstone Livestock said...

You do know if you did not want those goats to breed you would not be able to tear them apart, and would have had triplets or quads. This is coming from someone that had Kinders and Pygoras over 30 years ago before I ever heard those names. I had a Pygmy buck that didn't care which fence he got thru. It's kinda like designer dogs, Labradooles, Chiweenies, and on and on, we used to call those dogs mutts. Unless you are into showing or selling registered stock go ahead and go with whatever works for you. Like the name Kikobians, maybe you can be a pioneer in a new breed.

The Cranky said...

Good for you; not hanging onto a plan that isn't working out for you seems very practical and logical to me.

Can't wait to see how your Kikobians develop!

Michelle said...

Wow! I love your new stock! It sounds like you are back on track with your goat goals, even if it is with a different breed of buck. :-)

Leigh said...

Donna, seems that losing money is part of the motivation to do something different! You are so right though, about experience and lessons learned. I think in the end, it's attitude that makes it or breaks it.

TL, one thing I've learned about animals, is that we humans are never as in control as we think we are, LOL. If it had worked out with the Kinders, I would have been delighted. If we do hit onto something with the Kikos and Nubians, I might consider registered stock to work toward developing a breed standard. At the moment though, that seems like an awful lot of work. ;)

Jacqueline, sometimes ya just gotta roll with the punches. :)

Michelle, thanks! What I like about the Kinder is that it's dual purpose. That's appealing to folks like us that want both milk and meat, but don't have extensive acreage. I haven't found anybody yet who milks their Kikos, so who knows? The main thing is that we'll have milk plus hopefully heftier kids for freezer camp.

Carolyn said...

It's hard to give up something you've worked for, but it seems that change and alterations are a big part of homesteading and self-reliance. If it doesn't work, find something that does! And I agree, Kikobians has quite the fancy ring to it!

Jocelyn said...

I'm glad you were able to change, mid-course, and go after something that works better for you. Being adaptable is really important. I cam looking forward to seeing how this adventure comes along!

Elvis is super good looking. Quite the do!

Renee Nefe said...

One thing I've learned in life is that being flexible is the key. I'm looking forward to your new breed of kids...wishing you all the best.

Mama Pea said...

Really like the looks of Elvis (that "do!") and Lily. I'm partial to Nubians, I'll admit. I don't think there is any way you can attach the word "fail" to your goat endeavors. You're smart enough to look at the situation realistically, cut your losses and move on in a manner that feels good to YOU. You and the goats are gonna be just fine!

Please keep us updated regularly with the goats including lots of pictures. I'm definitely lively vicariously through you right now.

Unknown said...

This sounds like an awesome plan! Part of the learning process is to adapt and alter as we need to. Praying this works out better for your homestead, but so happy to hear you are content with you choices!

sista said...

Here's wishing you luck. Elvis is kinda cute. I know when Pat was breeding my Kinders that if one didn't like the buck it just didn't work. They are pretty smart that way.

Woolly Bits said...

hm, Elvis reminds me of those alpacas with their funny hairdo's:) Elvis, the father of all Kikobians - has a certain ring to it:) though somehow it sounds a bit like one of those alien "breeds" on startrack! good luck with Lily and Elvis....

Kathy said...

I think your solution to your non-breeding problem is brilliant!
Gruffy should probably move on to other pastures (I would imagine as I know rams keep knocking each other about to keep supremacy) for general peacefulness.
Your ideas are what we all face all the time and are logical.
I never heard of Kinder goats, but Elvis could really turn anybody's head, couldn't he??? :)
I, too, breed selectively and rest ewes. I am going to "rent-a-ram" this year for Loki's daughters - one ram is enough. That said, I know as I get older I either need a bigger place, or to think of a fiber flock rather than a breeding flock.
Well done!

Farmer Barb said...

Sorry I'm a little late here. I have been cleaning up the construction junk in the yard. I have fears about the very same thing you have run into. I am trying to decide what my master plan IS. Which breed will do me the best turn. Will it be this one or that one. It helps me so much to read through both your reasoning and your experiences.

Another randome question from up here. Do you have a pick-up truck? I am about to make the leap out of the minivan and into something with a bed that can get dirty.

Just wondering...

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Well, who couldn't love Elvis?
I can relate to your comment about maintaining registered livestock and all the headaches. I have rethought my strategy as well, with alpacas, not goats. What a relief on many counts.
It's good to realize when changing the dream isn't a failure but part of the journey.

Nina said...

I'm a firm believer that sometimes things happen for reasons. It sounds like you've taken the door which opened after another closed adn there is nothing wrong with that. I think it's a good thing to take the opportunities which seem to come along like that. Static goals which never grow and develop can cause more headaches and pains.

Leigh said...

Rats! Ya'll I just finished a reply to each of you and blogger ate it. sigh. I'll try again tomorrow.

Clint Baker said...

I am looking forward to seeing your new kids! God Bless!


* Crystal * said...

Aww, I'm sorry the Kinders didn't pan out.... You really did give it a good shot!

I have a friend with a Kiko/Saanen/Nubian doe that is built like a tank & milks great! Her buck kids are meaty boogers & dress out very well too, so I think your new direction will work out great! Any kids, and any doe milking is far better than none! ;)

Just a thought, but I, along with lots of dairy folks I know breed our doelings to kid around their first birthday..... It's not an age thing, more a weight thing.

Rosie just turned 7 months old & was at the buck owners house (since I don't have a Nubian buck) last week. Pre breeding I dewormed with a white wormer (Valbazen) & clear dewormer (Quest).... Copper bolused her & gave her a shot of Bo-Se that way she needs nothing during her first 50 days bred (at least, likely won't need anything until kidding). She's in peak condition & unburdened by any parasites...

She weighs 100lbs.

I raise on a strict parasite prevention program & wean late so my doelings can reach min weight by 7 months (won't breed anything under 85lbs, though all my does are hitting 90lbs by 8 months at the latest).

1st 3 months of pregnancy I feed VERY well as they hit a big growth spurt during this time... Lots of alfalfa for their growing skeletons & grain twice a day.... Last 2 months, I back off on feed so I don't create jumbo kids & I've always had good luck doing that.

The pregnancy growth spurt is so nice that I have a friend who breeds her doelings around 7 months, lets them have that pregnant hormonal surge to fuel some impressive growth, then she aborts the pregnancy about 2 months in.... This gives her bigger doelings to show as dry does.... I don't approve of the practice, but, it happens :(

Anywho.... If you wanted, you can get that girl on a high nutritional plane, deworm with a white & clear (so you're eliminating intestinal & blood sucking parasites), then repeat both in 10 days (to get anything that hatched out of eggs left behind).

Get her copper bolused, & on a good loose mineral & then get a weight on her.... If she's at least 90lbs in 4-6 weeks, I'd breed her, that way you have a backup in case your other girl doesn't take again...

And, in regards to your other doe..... Is there any chance she could have cystic ovaries, thus isn't concieving? I have a cystic, older doe, Ginger.......

With her, I have to give 1cc IM of cystorelin (vet RX, cheap) when she first comes into heat, then another 1cc IM 24 hours later.... Cystic ovaries kind of have a "snot like" barrier blocking the ovary, so even though she is cycling, the eggs are all getting caught in that snot, so they can't move down to be fertilized..... Cystorelin breaks up that snot barrier to allow the eggs to move on down.....

Might be worth looking into if she still doesn't settle for you.

I wish you the best of luck! You've been MORE than patient, so you certainly deserve lots of happy kids bounding about.... Not to mention, more milk than ya know what to do with :)

Anonymous said...

Elvis does have a wonderful "do", very sweet looking guy. I am glad you are working towards your dream and not letting yourself get too far off track. Keep up the good fight, there are a lot of us in your corner.

Leigh said...

Okay, I'm going to try to post a comment once again. :)

Carolyn, on the one hand, it does seem hard to give up a goal, but it's a relief on the other hand. I agree that it's just part of the lifestlye.

Jocelyn, so true. I'm hoping I'll have good news to report in about 5 or 6 months!

Renee, thanks. The hardest part is knowing when to press on, and when to change direction.

Mama Pea, I have to admit I've not cared much for the Nubian personality, but I do love their looks. LOL. I think failure is a frame of mind, not an end result!

Jaclyn, thank you! Your prayers are appreciated. I think adaptability is key.

Sista, thanks! Good point about the doe's opinion. :p And if Surprise is anything, she'd opinionated.

Bettina, "Elvis, the father of all Kikobians" I love it! I had forgotten about alpaca 'dos. Always amusing. :)

Kathy, it's interesting to hear all this from a Shetland breeder. Kinders are a fairly new breed (since the 1980s), but gaining in popularity in certain parts of the country. Hopefully someone around here will give it a try and be successful.

Barb, sounds like you've been busy as usual! The hardest part of a master plan is getting the first draft down. Seems like the changes became obvious after that; so much of it is just practical applications of what you try.

We do have a pick-up, an old 1988 Chevy S-10. It's small and has over 300,000 miles, but she's still running. The bed does not have a box or container to make it good for transporting animals however. I do have a jeep, and usually transport goats in the back of that. I secure welded wire fence behind the front seats and put down tarp and straw.

Norma, I really like him, I confess. I'm glad to hear someone else has come to a similar conclusion about their breeding program. I think some folks are more suited to the record keeping, details, and planning. I so agree about all of it simply being part of a journey.

Nina, I couldn't agree more. Good point about static goals.

Clint, thanks! Hopefully next March or April. :)

Crystal, I just love it when you leave informative, detailed comments like this. I learn a lot from you. I've been reading about breeding by weight rather than age, and have thought possibly I might consider that for Lily in December or January. I'm not sure of her weight, but it's less than 80 lbs. I do know she was on her dam for three months. All this gal's goats look healthy, so we'll see.

Martha, isn't it the funniest? I think he'll have a nice "mane" when he fills out and grows up. He's got a shiny silky coat, which I'm happy with. Thanks for your good encouragements!

luckybunny said...

Very exciting and I really like this idea. I can't wait to see how it goes and to follow along. I love the nake Kikobians that's a riot. I'm wishing you the best of the luck with the new additions and looking forward to following along!

* Crystal * said...

LOL Leigh, I'm happy my lengthy rambles don't bother you..... I trend to ramble everywhere I go on the net, especially when I'm procrastinating about house work ;)

If she's not yet 80lbs, I'd wait until December/January like you planned. Do you have a weight tape? I bought a Caprine Supply dairy weight tape from Jeffers.... Weighed the doelings on a scale, then taped them, and on each the weight tape showef them to be 8lbs heavier than they were.... I know there is a formula online for doing weights with just a regular tape, but I haven't compared that one to a regular scale yet (I have to drive up & use the vets scale for comparison...PIA)

On a side note.... I had a lil giggle when I saw Lilly's picture..... With the various comments we have bantered back and forth about the breed, seeing a new Nubian at your place made me giggle! Though really, who am I to point fingers when in my herd of Lamanchas & Alpines, I too have a Nubian?? lol Shockingly though, our Rosie is the quietest, mellowest, least dramatic goat on the property.... I think she heard my derogatory Nubian remarks & set out to prove me wrong! Ha

Anywho, it's gonna be a long 5-6 months!! Can't wait to see your Kikobians (am I the only one who thinks that sounds Star Wars-ish?) :)

DebbieB said...

Well, this is GREAT, Leigh! I'm all in favor of "whatever works". Being flexible is the key to success in life, and I'm glad you've found a good solution to the goat issue. Glad Surprise was cooperative!

Leigh said...

Donna, thanks! I'm excited and curious at the same time. Too bad the "slow life" is so slow, LOL

Crystal, oh gosh, not at all. I'm always amazed at your knowledge and love that you've done so much practical research.

There's a regular tape measure to weight chart for goats at FiasCo Farm website. I used it on Jasmine and Surprise and remember that it was off somewhat when I took Jasmine to the vet one time.

I confess I surprised myself when I told Dan I wanted another Nubian, LOL. But there is so much to be said for individual personality and even Surprise has mellowed out as she's gotten older. :)

Debbie thanks! Especially for this kind of lifestyle, whatever works is important! I have to say that Surprise is the most opinionated and emotional goat I've ever had. Fortunately, she's mellowed out a bit; not a lot, but enough. :)

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Sounds like you've got yet another good plan in your future goat breeding. A toast to your new Kikobians!

Unknown said...

Sometimes you've got to cut your losses...or at least try to work a project from a different idea.

In any case, I love your new goats - especially Elvis. I can see how your husband took a liking to Kikos since he does have a rather well balanced figure. And his hair and beard just crack me up :)